A town in Wales is reeling after four teen boys were discovered dead in an overturned and partly submerged car after they had set out on a camping trip.
Police are now investigating how the vehicle, carrying schoolmates Jevon Hirst, Harvey Owen, Wilf Fitchett and Hugo Morris, ended up in a river while on their way to a camping trip in Eryri National Park, also known as Snowdonia.
It’s believed the boys, all between the ages of 16 and 18 and from Shrewsbury, U.K., were last seen on Sunday morning and were reported missing Monday evening when they failed to return home.
After a tipoff from a member of the public, police found the Ford Fiesta they had been travelling in overturned in a river about eight kilometres from the town of Porthmadog, where they were last seen two days earlier.
Owain Llewellyn, superintendent of North Wales Police, called the incident “tragic,” explaining that it’s believed the vehicle ran off a steep and narrow winding road.
“This appears to have been a tragic accident, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the four young men at this very difficult time,” Llewellyn said in his statement.
“This has been an extensive search involving a number of different agencies and volunteers, and this is sadly not the outcome that any of us would have wanted,” he continued. “We would ask that the family be afforded the appropriate privacy and respect.”
Local councillor June Jones told the BBC, “The car was only spotted when a passing lorry driver saw it from the higher vantage point of his cab,” on Tuesday morning.
Shrewsbury residents are mourning the deaths of the young men, with Rev. Charlotte Gompertz describing it as “the worst news.”
“It’s not what we prayed for when we heard they were missing. It’s impacting everyone. This is a tight-knit community where many of the young people have been to school together since they were four years old. It’s utterly devastating,” the vicar of Oxon parish church told the BBC.
“Some of the families are quite high-profile folk within the community and it’s going to take a long time to get our heads even vaguely around this tragedy,” Gompertz continued, explaining that Shrewsbury is a place where “everybody knows everybody.”
Following the accident, Harvey Owen’s mom, Crystal, posted on Facebook Wednesday, “I feel like I’m in a nightmare I wish I could wake up from but I’m not,” reports The Guardian.
“I just wanted to say I do appreciate people’s kindness but no amount of messages is going to help me overcome this. Nothing will make this nightmare go away,” she added.
The teens’ school, Shrewsbury College, also paid tribute to their pupils in a statement to People.
“We would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the four young men who tragically died in the suspected traffic accident,” the statement began. “This news is truly heartbreaking, and our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic news.”
“We would like to thank the emergency services and local mountain rescue teams and to members of the public for their assistance in helping with the search and helping to locate the vehicle,” the statement continued. “We will be working directly with students and staff who are affected by terrible accident and have put in place a range of support measures for all our community.”